Learning to See / 12 Home Interior Vistas

vis·ta /vistə/ noun

  • a pleasing view, especially one seen through a long, narrow opening

  • a mental view of a succession of remembered or anticipated events 

We tend to think of vistas—or views—in terms of seeing the outside through something inside. For instance, we appreciate a view of rolling countryside through the frame of a window. But the interior world—and specificially, the home interior world—is full of vistas in which we look through one interior frame or opening into another interior view.

It’s a good thing I’ve been collecting photos that are examples of what I’m talking about, so you don’t think I’m nuts. But framing an interior space in the same way we would an exterior one makes a lot of sense in decorating. It gets you to look at the space in a particular way. A new way.

A way in which you begin to understand how spaces in a home connect. A way a home—your home—can unfold to tell your story.

See what I mean…


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Nena & Co.

This IS BoHo Home, so I thought it only logical to begin with a boho example. The focus of attention is, obviously, the over-the-top daybed we see through the door, jam-packed with interesting and colorful textiles. But consider how the scene composed in the hallway draws us in:

  • The walls are stark white, which simplifies the riot of pattern ahead.
  • A few patterned elements hang on these white walls, but they’re hung at an angle that draws us into the daybed.
  • Neutral, textural elements—the guitar, the plants, the baskets, the armoire—almost seem at one with the floor and work like the white walls to frame the bottom part of the scene.


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José Luis Hausmann photo / Casadiez 

This room also possesses elements of boho, but in a much more minimal way. The walls here are also white (and mostly bare), which emphasizes not only what little color there is, but also texture. And this vista is ALL about texture:

  • Warm wood textures in the foreground table that connect to the warm wood floor, the rustic wood crate with peeling paint that’s used as a nightstand, and the varying wood tones of the headboard.
  • The gold glasses connect with the ochre bedding. The former texture is smooth and refined, while the latter is rougher and less refined.
  • The brick upper wall within the bedroom works as an invitation to enter. It seems to be pointing to what we cannot see, as is the bedside lamp and the hats hung over the headboard.


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Nyréns Arkitektkontor via Planete Deco 

Another bedroom—one busy with patterned bedding, plants, art and other décor—becomes a longed-for destination because of the simplicity of the charcoal gray walls that hold you as you approach. They also create a certain moodiness that is broken by the shaft of light coming out of the bedroom.

Who wouldn’t want to go toward that light?


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William McLure via Elements of Style

This bedroom is so neat and tidy it makes my heart sing. It’s also mostly neutral, with tan, black and white. But it gets its zing from the cobalt blues that begin in the hallway—in the linen cabinet, the chinoiserie porcelains, and the blue-and-white graphic art above the door.

I love that the porcelains on top of the cabinet connect with the blue-and-white garden stool in the corner to the bedroom’s entrance. And if you look closely inside what we can see of the bedroom, there is one chinoiserie vase, on the mantel.

Do you see any other blue and white? A big star for you if you notice the crisp blue-and-white-striped bedsheets AND the deep blue walls.


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Frédéric-Léon Ducout photo / Maison Créative

The fun in this vista—for me anway—is the sweet arched mirror with the word “amour” next to it, then the bedroom beyond. So the story becomes, look in the mirror and get your sexy face on, then proceed to the bedroom. It’s like foreplay for design!

And something about the composition speaks to me as well. The sink with the mirror over it and the unusual light fixture over that stacks up in much the same way as the bed, the gallery wall and the chandelier in the room beyond. It’s a kind of symmetry.


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Michael G. Imber via Desire to Inspire

Bedrooms show up in vista-like photos so often because they’re usually partitioned off from the rest of the home, most often by a door, which creates a natural vista. But other parts of the house also contain vistas. Here, gracefully cut-out, painted paneling frames an arched doorway in a contrasting color, which frames the kitchen beyond.

Though a modern appliance sits on the kitchen counter, what we focus on is the crockery, the painting we only see a corner of, and the rough-hewn beam used for open shelving. The blue of the outer room—a pantry or mudroom?—acts like a cool sky through which we see the larger, warmer world, though our view of it is quite a bit smaller in comparison.

The straw hat hung on the upper left, the basket on the upper right, and the warm terra cotta pot on the lower right all point into that kitchen, where the sun shines warm in those same colors.


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Erik Jaeger photo / Klikk

Wood and white, wood and white, wood and white. This vista is all about the repetition of those elements to pull us in, in, in:

  • The rustic wood paneling is outlined in white molding.
  • The wood threshold contrasts with the white floor beyond it.
  • The wood door into the innermost room contrasts with the white walls.
  • The wood chairs beyond contrast with the white curtains, pendant and tableware.
  • Finally, the flowers by the door and on the table in the far room add additional milestones that draw us toward this destination.


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Via Achados de Decoração

The juxtaposition of black, white and warm wood tones is what makes this vista work. It’s a busy setting, what with the chalkboard walls, the patterned chairbacks and the densely grouped art both in the outer hall and the room beyond the table.

But the neutral color palette helps soften it, as do the plants. And I love the hopscotch-patterned rug, which points the way and adds to the feeling that this is a playful place.


www.BoHoHome.com @bohosusan
Via Mademoiselle by Mod

Moody contrasts make this vista. The signal yellow of the chair on one side of the double doors and the gold-potted plant on the other mark the way for the eye, particularly against the moody dark blue of the walls.

Because the doors are slightly ajar yet at different angles creates movement and suggests we come on in. And I, for one, want to see what’s inside! The white sofa—a distinct contrast from the dark walls—entices me, as does that peek of the cute animal sculpture on the coffee table.

The two area rugs also act as bridges. The furry one outside seems to have dark coming from light, while the tweedy one inside seems to have light coming from dark; or is it the other way around?

Whichever it is, it works.


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Via Home & Garden

This is such an unusual doorway, that it deserves a well-constructed vista. I’m guessing it’s in a loft environment (or some other sort of industrial space reconfigured for housing) and there has been some effort to preserve the original architectural structure.

Somewhere in the building’s history the overhead beam was notched and that has been left exposed. The difference in trim from side to side is painted to match but lends a quirky touch. Wouldn’t you expect to find something like a vintage motorcycle framed by pillars like that? The chaise placed on an angle calls attention to the doorway, as do the black wall shelves, seen in perspective.

Can you guess my favorite part? It’s the “Zip” sign hung over the cabinet, which connects not only with the motorcycle but also with the zip the bright suzani throw adds to the ivory-colored chaise.


www.BoHoHome.com @bohosusan
ADE Architecture / HomeDSGN

“Buy the ticket, take the ride,” posted on the end wall in this vista stands out because it’s white on dark gray, a contrast with the black on white of the foreground. The black pendants seem to march us toward the sign, which has a resting place beneath it—a sort of storage bench—that connects in color to the sliding barn door in the right foreground.

But there’s something else at work here. It’s that kind of gruesome painting on the left—a bleeding, mustachioed skull—the only element of color in the scene. And next to the skull painting is a vintage copper oxygen tank. It’s as if the entire vignette is telling us we MUST buy the ticket, and we MUST take the ride, that it’s the only way to keep from dying spiritually and emotionally before we die physically.


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Marnie Hawson photo / Gardener & Marks Interior Design

Back to the bedroom again, but this time the vista is more traditionally what we think of when we hear the word because of the outdoors beyond.

To me, this room is full of story. I’m not usually a fan of the rumpled-bed look, but here it speaks of immediacy to me, that there’s nothing so important as getting out that door, into nature, and setting up camp in that chair—a philosophy I so heartily agree with.

So why am I ruminating on all these photos of homes as if they were novels with symbols, characters & plots of their own?

Because they are, don’t you see? You are. Your home is your story.

So sneak around its corners with your phone and take some pictures of your very own home interior vistas. You may not always like what you see, but eventually you’ll start to see how to make adjustments that better connect the discrete spaces of your home and compose a picture that better reflects your story.

If you want more…

  • Follow my Pinterest board, Vistas, and get your eyes used to a new way of seeing.
  • Take photos of your own home interior vistas and use what you see to make changes. When you like what you see, send your photos to me at susan@bohohome.com, and I’ll share them in a future “Learning to See” post.
  • Start your own “Vistas” Pinterest board to help you in your plight.
  • Become a BoHo Home follower and never miss another post. It’s easy! Just plug your email into one of the subscription services as the bottom of this page. Or, follow my blog with Bloglovin, a social-media-type service that feeds you all the blogs you want to keep up with in one convenient place.
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